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National News

July 27, 2004 PRESS RELEASE

Canada’s Aboriginal Leaders Meet with Premiers to Discuss

Aboriginal Health Care Crisis

Ottawa, ON - The leaders of Canada’s three constitutionally-recognized Aboriginal Peoples welcome the opportunity to meet Canada’s premiers and territorial leaders to discuss Aboriginal health care in Canada. MÈtis National Council President ClÈment Chartier, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami President Jose Kusugak and Assembly of First Nations National Chief Phil Fontaine have been invited to present to the provincial and territorial leaders prior to the Council of the Federation meeting in Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON.

Aboriginal Peoples face universal health challenges of quality, access, and sustainability as highlighted in the Health Accord, compounded by remoteness, cultural uniqueness and higher disease burden. Too many Aboriginal Peoples are unnecessarily exposed to health risks due to poor housing, contaminated water and lack of timely access to health services, healthy food as well as employment opportunities.

MÈtis National Council President Chartier commented, "It is important for premiers and territorial leaders to understand and support the principle that we need to be fully involved in developing and implementing the necessary solutions to turn the current Aboriginal crisis around. Moreover, it is equally important for them to appreciate that a one-size-fits-all or pan-Aboriginal approach will only perpetuate the status quo. The MÈtis Nation requires MÈtis-specific health care solutions and services."

Jose Kusugak, President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami said, "the Aboriginal Health Care Crisis manifests itself differently in the Inuit communities in the Arctic – the largest geographic region of Canada. Eight out of ten health care dollars are spent transporting patients to hospitals thousands of miles away. There are few doctors in the Arctic, and retaining nurses is critical. Inuit need partnerships with federal, provincial and territorial governments in order to identify Inuit solutions to improve our health."

"I applaud the efforts of the premiers who advocated for including First Nations, Inuit and the MÈtis in these discussions," said AFN National Chief Phil Fontaine. "First Nations are involved in all aspects of the health care system as clients, providers and practitioners. We have a unique experience, situation and place within the Federation but we share - like many people in Canada - an interest in ensuring efficient and effective health care for all our citizens. We believe the Premiers will realize that it is important and, in fact, necessary that First Nations and all Aboriginal peoples be there for these discussions and we will be seeking their support for our involvement at the upcoming First Ministers Meeting on Health."

The Aboriginal leaders will each make presentations looking at concerns and solutions specific to their people. They will also jointly call upon the provincial and territorial leaders to encourage the Prime Minister to provide the Aboriginal leadership with full participation at the next First Ministers Meeting on Health in September.

The national leaders of the MÈtis National Council, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and Assembly of First Nations will meet with Premiers and Territorial leaders from 3-5 pm, Wednesday, July 28 at the Pillar And Post Inn (Secord Room), 48 John Street, Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario.

There will be a photo opportunity at the start of the meeting and it is expected that the national leaders will address the media on-site following the meeting (approximately 5 pm)."

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Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami

Stephen Hendrie, Director of Communications

cell: 613-277-3178

Assembly of First Nations

Don Kelly, Communications Director

613-241-6789 ext. 320 or cell: 613-292-2787

Ian Mcleod, Communications Officer (Bilingual)

613-241-6789 ext. 336 or cell: 613-859-4335

MÈtis National Council

Miles Morrisseau, Director of Communications

613-232-3216 or cell: 613-612-5753


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